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James M. Knott, Sr., D.Sc.
Gloucester, MA & Northbridge, MA

The New England lobster population has exploded for two reasons: one is the demise of the finfish population that predatored on lobsters and the other is: lobster-fishing is really lobster-farming;lobsters enter lobster-traps,feed on bait in the traps and leave.

Plymouth, MA.

I live in a fishing community, and I feel for the fishermen and their families, but we simply live in a different time - a do or die time. There's no longer an abundance of anything! Someone ignorantly suggested that the environmentalists are pushing propoganda. Come on, you've got to be smarter than that! If it weren't for them, who would be looking out for the greater good? Do you really think we ought to let the fishermen police themselves?
Many thanks and much love to the environmental groups for keeping watch!!!


I applaud the efforts of your local fisheries and the wonderful, hard working family's that support them! It is my experience here on Maryland's shore and bay, that local fisherman and crabbers are best at conservation. They understand and realize the relationship between species as well as the outcome of over fishing; the effects to the environment, long-term profits, and family heritage. I pray that the government and environmental agencies will realize that the problem does not and has not been created by the responsible and dedicated small fisheries and lies at the foot of "progress". The large fishing companies and government oil searches have done much more damage. We who love and responsibly harvest the sea all know that your plight will be our own if a fair and sustainable solution is not found between wildlife and human life! God Bless and keep you all!

New Bedford, MA

I studied Marine Bio in college and had a very conservation driven mindset and assumed fisherman were "pirates" driving the stocks to their dismal levels. Although I still feel over fishing is at least partly to blame I do not place all the blame on the fisherman as individuals. I worked as a fisheries observer while this film was shot. All I can say is that doing the job was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. My heart broke for many of the fisherman that worked tirelessly to try to make ends meet. And I also watched them throw thousands of pounds of by catch overboard. Some fish just millimeters shy of regulation size, thrown over to die due to the stress of capture. Limiting days has been shown to be ineffective at solving this crisis alone; gear modifications to limit habitat destruction and increase target species efficiency, reducing the emphasis on size limits, and reducing by catch are, in my opinion, the next steps in rescuing these resources, the fish and the fishing communities! 1/22/07
Alan Owens
Ann Arbor, Michigan

"A Fish Story" told me things I did not know. "A Fish Story" had a sense of history. I have read the world's fish will be gone soon.Fishing is a valuable living which "A Fish Story" revealed. Watching this show at 12:30AM was worthwhile.

Maynard, MA

It seems easy to blame the local fishermen, because they're so visible. But if I was paying attention to the film, it doesn't sound like the ever-smaller number of fishing days has much helped the groundfish like cod, haddock, other schrod, and flounder. I know in the last 10 years at the supermarket and fish market their availability has decreased and their price has gone up a lot. (Same for local bay scallops.) Are the scientists investigating possible other causes such as warming of the ocean, different currents or mixing of currents, sources of pollution, changes in local plant life and bottom sediments, as well as the changes in the local shellfish? And the monster ships that fish outside the 200 mile limit, what is their effect? Of course I side with our New England fishing families, they got us fish for hundreds of years in all kinds of weather, and they want the fish to continue. The same way you get the best milk from many smaller herds, like we have in this part of the country. Even if the government loans put too many boats out awhile back, why hasn't cutting the local guys' days helped any? I ask you. And if I go into Trader Joe's, they have all kinds of frozen cod and other U.S. fish and shellfish in the frozen case, at inexpensive prices. Where is it coming from? Local family boats that fish closer in? I don't know, I'm asking. It's so easy to blame the folks we can see right in front of us. What if they are not much of the cause?


If human beings don't stop fishing for a while, there simply won't be any more fish. a "tipping point" will be reached (fairly soon at current levels of consumption), and the entire oceanic ecosystem will collapse in a chain reaction then the big commercial fishermen and the small family fishermen will be out of work.

M. Rice
Alaska & Washington State

Having worked in Alaska's fishing industry from many perspectives -- fishing boat, cannery worker, and Fish & Game employee -- I place my blame for New England's crisis entirely with the regulatory agencies (NMFS and the states). Fish returns are healthy and fishing communities are strong in Alaska because our Department of Fish & Game does the incredibly complex and difficult job of ensuring fish stock health. Although they grumble about quotas, limited fishing days, and inspections, fishermen in general are thankful for the difficult choices. Strong fishermen's associations, which unite the family fishermen against factory fishing, and pro-fishing elected officials, also help. New England fishers do not give up hope! Fishing weirs nearly killed the salmon runs in B.C. and Alaska in the early 19th century, but nature is resilient and now the returns are the biggest ever. Keep up the faith. Keep fighting the factory boats and oil drilling. The fish will come back. "If you protect it, they will come." :-)

Nick S.
Missoula, MT

I know little about the plight of fishermen, and this film was really an educational experience for me. When one of the people in the film likened the plight of the communities to small farmers, I think things were put more into context for me.

When choosing a side I lean more toward the fishermen and their families, however the film did show me a lot about shortfalls on each side of the agenda. There needs to be a fair and balanced approach, and who else would know more about responsible fishing, but the families which have done so in the featured waters for hundreds of years.

What I learned about the environmental view is scary. After spending 25 years, My entire lifetime), fighting the men and women who have worked these coasts for so long, the old refiners are coming back to town. With no consensus between the once strong allies, who really loses in all of this. The working families of this country, and in the end the rest of society as drilling begins again.

Houston, TX

I just watched the film "A Fish Story" on PBS...what an 'eye-opener!' Thanks to all involved in bringing this story to all of us who know very little of what these hardworking families are experiencing. God bless the fishing families involved around our U.S.A. - I could truly tell the "pursuit of happiness" of these American Fishing Families being torn apart. I do not side with the environmentalists; both the ocean and the fishing families should be "protected" from extinction! I believe these governmental agencies should put their high-powered-money-brains TOGETHER and come up with a REAL SOLUTION so that BOTH the ocean and fishing families GAIN from the solution rather than SUFFER harm - on both sides! Geez, you'd think they were trying to run the fishing families off so they can "finally" throw OIL RIGS in the place of these working boats and families! Oops... they it is again - OIL & Greed! Good luck dear fishing families, my prayers are WITH YOU!!!

Laura Foley Ramsden
New Bedford, MA

Foley Fish, my business, has just completed our 100th year in the fish business. We feel strongly that fishery management is essential to the survival of our oceans. We also feel strongly that the science needs to be improved before the government acts with a heavy hand against the days at sea. The government lacks the tools to successfully analyze the current conditions. Discussions with fishermen have us convinced that there are a great deal of fish in the ocean but fishery management compromises jeopardize the stocks by encouraging throwing fish overboard through ridiculously low trip limits. Improving the science can only help us all understand the health of the fishing stocks such that we can all act in good conscience and with an eye to conservation.


I know fishermen from the south shore. One thing that really bothers some of them is the big huge fishing and the canning ships that are out in our waters, taking the build up of our stock of fish to take to another country, and no one is doing much about that. Maybe they should Deputize some of the fishermen, so they can patrol the waters in there off time and make money to support there boats. They could also fish farm.

Bloomington, IN

I just read some comments and it is sad to me that people are so divisive. You see this is what goes wrong throughout debates, the extent of the one-sidedness of a person�s stance. I agree that the fisher-people are very capable of understanding the delicate balance of life versus over-fishing and are prepared to make sacrifices. I also know that there were environmentalists, the Conservation Law Foundation in particular, who split from their colleges in regards to preserving the fisher�s way-of-life, so they play a part in casting-off the higher powers as well.

What I do not understand is why each side does not think outside of the box to come together in benefit of both concerns. If there is a fear of job loss and fear of fish depletions, then why not create jobs for those fisher-people, during the off-season, which will promote the permeation and restoration of the local fish population. Forgive me if I am oversimplifying the issue, but it seems commonsense to me. It is time to put the Earth�s well being on the priority list, but there are ways to do so without such conflict. If we start thinking of things in terms of balance and moderation, perhaps then we can come to an agreement.

Houston, TX

"A fish story" was an eye-opening documentary. I was moved to tears and inconsolable especially after viewing Johnny San Fillipo's injury due to working alone. My grief turned into anger after seeing how unemotional and impersonal the environmentalists responded to the pleas of the fisherman. As a parent I understand the environmentalist�s line of reasoning to save the surroundings and natural resources for future generations, BUT nothing is worth the livelihood and spirits of another human being. Similar to journalist I also was misinformed about a fisherman's greed but as this documentary provided nothing is farther from the truth. The fisherman depicted were all hard-working Americans trying to make a living doing what they do best, and continuing their family tradition. My heart and prayers go out to all the fisherman and family especially to Mr. San Fillipo. This story and the people depicted have affected me in more ways then I can imagine. How can I, a fellow American assist in their plight?

Bayside, CA

We live in a small town that depended heavily on fishing and lumber, industries that have struggled for a couple of decades now. These industries and their corporations have almost depleted our natural resources. It is obvious these small family owned businesses are not to blame, however big business doesn't care about these families or the oceans. One respondent was right about foreign fishing businesses, (e.g. Japan) are a big problem. They just want the big profits. We need to look at the big picture - the survival of our earth and consequent survival of our people. We as individuals can boycott such businesses, and we can choose not to eat fish for a while. Is the public willing?

Honolulu, Hawai

i I have heard that Japanese ships in the Pacific off-load tons of fish they do not want (instead of returning them to the sea) onto island locations. I have spoken to an eyewitness. The importance is not that Japanese ships are doing this, as ships of other national origin may be doing the same. The significance is the number of fish, which must be in the thousands.

Rich Ceretto
Fox River Grove, IL

Thanks for "a fish story" � it opened my eyes to the fishermen's plight. I have been ignorant of this problem, though I am 46 yrs old. My mind asks one question that in my mind would be fair to the people who live and are the ones fishing in their own HOME waters. Why shouldn't they have first rights to the fishing time to produce enough income to support their business and family members?
If there was a simple solution it would have been pounced on by the local communities. My wish is that people where ever they are hear their own shot across the bow and like the people in this story stand together and honor their families. Thanks

Curt Collier
Long Beach, CA

Watching an hour program certainly does not qualify me as an expert on the dramatic issues that are affecting so many people�s lives and an American tradition. All I have are more questions but I will limit myself to one with perhaps my own answer. How is it that the State of Alaska has done such a successful job of managing the wild salmon stocks and New England regulators fail so miserably? My only answer would be politics as usual with special interests benefiting. IMO, once again, the lobbyists are running our country.

Tom Clarie
Hampton, NH

Bumped into this story by getting "hooked" while watching the Orange Bowl football game! You did a terrific job visually and "story-wise" explaining the dilemma and enigma at finding any real answer. My wife and I live just off Route 1A, Ocean Boulevard, 3 miles south of Rye Harbor, a small but popular fishing harbor. Fishermen there and out of my town of Hampton, NH, are very frustrated -- they often view even the Conservation Law Foundation that you show trying to help the fishermen as the enemy. Thanks for a "tough" story that needed to be told.

Baton Rouge , Louisiana

It's sad that the people of the United States are being fed such horrible propaganda by so called environmentalists all the time. To watch some of these people trying to save their desk jobs is pathetic. They will say or do whatever it takes to keep those jobs----even spread around misinformation about the hard working fishers of the United States. Other people around the U.S. buy into the stories because they're good at spreading one picture around to make you think it's thousands. They go for the heartfelt stories. I'm glad to see that this will be aired on television. People around the U.S. need to understand the plight of what's really taking place with those hardworking fishers. Hopefully, this will reach all of those people! Environmentalists are destroying heritages and cultures without a backward glance. Why aren't they standing on their soapbox yelling about the seafood coming into our country and the damage it's doing to the world?? Where are they? Maybe because it doesn't prick as many hearts of the people of the U.S. to give money, hmmm...could be. FDA only tests 2% of ALL seafood coming into the U.S. Where's the fuss about all the stuff that your being fed from other countries? Do you think they are following the guidelines that companies and fishers have to follow in the U.S.? Who's watching out for that? BAH! on those so called environmentatlists. What idiots they are! I've spoken with many of fishers. Those that I have talked with on an in depth scale cares what happens to the fish or other seafood.


Times change and we have to change with the times. Some traditions can't be carried on and people have to learn new skills in order to make a living. I feel sorry for these families; they are victims of greed and bad judgment. As global warming continues, many people will have to make adjustments in their lives, just as animals will have to, or die.


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